The next morning, the entire hrossa village is buzzing with excitement for the hnakra hunt. Ransom is honored to join Hyoi in his boat with another young male hross named Whin, determined to show the hrossa that humans can be brave too. He kneels by Whin next to the pile of throwing-spears in the middle of the boat as Hyoi paddles in the back. There are nearly a hundred boats of hrossa crowded in the stream.
Ransom again becomes a representative for all humans, hoping to show the hrossa the best side of humanity. He is learning to control his fear, facing the hnakra now when he ran from it earlier. Ransom now has a community behind him and has learned that fear is not the proper response on this new planet.
Ransom learns that the hrossa have the advantage of numbers and intelligence, while the hnakra has speed, invisibility under the water, and a tough hide. The only way to kill the hnakra is to wound it in the mouth with a spear. Hyoi and Whin each desperately want to be the one to throw the killing spear, infecting Ransom with their desire to be a hnakrapunt (hnakra-slayer).
Lewis presents the hrossa, the “good” side, and the hnakra, the “bad” side, as evenly matched. Neither side is assured victory, and both must fight hard to win. The fact that the triumph of good over evil is not certain adds more tension to this hunt and adds more nuance to Lewis’s utopia.
Hyoi paddles out into the water and Ransom scans the calm surface tensely for any sign of the hnakra swimming underneath. After a long time, Whin takes over paddling and Hyoi joins Ransom in the front. Hyoi points out that an eldil is coming towards them over the water, but Ransom cannot see it. Hyoi greets the eldil, and Ransom hears a clear, high voice tell Hyoi that the Man with them (that is, Ransom himself) must go to Oyarsa to avoid further evil from the other “bent” humans. Whin laments that the eldil has told them to stop the hunt. Hyoi agrees that their priority now must be to deliver Ransom to Oyarsa. Ransom is disappointed that the two hrossa might miss their dream for his sake, and he pushes the other two to continue the hunt first.
Lewis uses the eldila to point out the proper hierarchy on Malacandra. Oyarsa is naturally and unquestionably above the hnau, and his orders are meant to be followed absolutely for the good of everyone. The hrossa submit immediately to the word of the eldila, accepting that the eldila are more powerful and that the will of Oyarsa is only for their good. Ransom, however, does not trust Oyarsa and believes that he knows best. He thinks of the immediate pleasure of the hunt rather than more long-term happiness.
At that moment, Whin notices the foam track that means the hnakra is swimming underwater and begins paddling furiously towards it. Hyoi throws spears into the water to bait the hnakra into opening its mouth. Ransom too throws spears, but then is himself thrown out of the boat when Whin paddles the boat onto the shore and crashes it. Hyoi leaps onto the hnakra’s back and hurls a spear into the hnakra’s snapping jaws. As Hyoi falls into the water, the hnakra dies.
The hrossa fight valiantly against the hnakra, doing their duty to stop evil when it gets too close to the hrossa community. Ransom also plays his part, but is less able to fight the hnakra than the hrossa, who are better prepared and equipped for this battle. Lewis points out that men cannot always do much good against evil, due to their own false instincts.
Ransom, Hyoi, and Whin splash to shore and hug each other with joy and relief. Ransom is overcome, and knows now that hross and human are both hnau, and that all three of them have proved themselves through this hunt. Hyoi happily pronounces them all hnakrapunti—but Ransom is then distracted by the “familiar and civilized” sound of an English rifle shot. Blood blooms from a bullet wound in Hyoi’s torso.
The experience of defeating evil brings Ransom closer to the hrossa that he once feared and judged. They are bonded in their commitment to fight for what is good, a trait that Lewis praises as something humans should aspire to as well. In stark contrast, human civilization, represented by the gun, brings with its technology and “advancement” only violence and harm.
Ransom kneels by Hyoi’s head and desperately explains that the two bent humans who came with him to Malacandra have shot him, because humans are truly only half-hnau. Ransom tries to apologize, but doesn’t know the hrossan word for “sorry.” Hyoi uses his last breath to once again call Ransom a hnakrapunt, and then dies. Ransom is overcome by the alien and animal nature of Hyoi’s still face, which had become so familiar to him over these last weeks.
Humankind is constantly making mistakes that injure others, yet Hyoi is able to forgive Ransom for the actions of his kind and chooses to see what they have in common – the successful hnakra hunt, rather than the things that could easily inspire hatred or division between them.
Ransom tells Whin that the hrossa should kill all three humans if they are wise. Whin protests that only Oyarsa can kill hnau, and then asks why humans would kill. Ransom explains that humans do sometimes kill for pleasure, but his captors Weston and Devine most likely shot out of fear of the hrossa. Whin tells Ransom that he must now follow the orders of the eldil and go to Meldilorn, while the hrossa look for Weston and Devine.
The hrossa are again so good that they will not kill even in retaliation for the death of one of their own. Meanwhile, humans kill for many reasons. Ransom brings up the issue of fear, which often causes humans to lash out and harm others. In the face of that mistake, it is more important than ever for Ransom to accept his place as a human who should trust in the will of those who are naturally above him, such as the eldila and Oyarsa.
Whin tells Ransom how to get to Meldilorn, a two-day journey which will take him out of the handramit and onto the harandra, past a place called Augray’s tower, where Augray will help him further. Whin assures Ransom that Oyarsa will not let the bent humans hurt him on his way, but Ransom is not too sure. However, Ransom is so horrified by the death of Hyoi at the hands of his countrymen that he can only do as Whin says.
Ransom cannot trust in Oyarsa the way that Whin does, because he does not have experience trusting in things other than himself. However, Ransom has seen the terrible consequences of attempting to control his own life – as his choice to continue the hunt led to Hyoi’s death – and is smart enough to choose a different way now.